Ah, the great outdoors. I hate it. I imagine a lot of people who live in the UK do – weather you can’t depend on, chavs waiting to rob you on street corners, a shortage of grit in winter, and dozens of angry wasps flying around in summer. I see no reason to ever go outside, unless it’s to go to the shop to buy games – but then that’s why god invented Internet shopping, so the mailman can take the outdoor risks and we can reap the benefits! Of course, I’ve painted such a stereotypical image of myself now; but I write this in jest – somebody up there has a twisted sense of humour because as much as I despise the outdoors, I’ve ended up living on a farm. My boots? Covered in crap. My spare time? Used on making sure the pigs don’t escape. Trust me, if I could simulate my outdoor experience rather than actually living it, I would. Then, as if by magic, Cooking Mama World: Outdoor Adventures arrived; would it portray my image of the great outdoors? I doubt it – as I expect the developer wants to sell copies.
If you’ve played a Cooking Mama game before, you’ll know that you play as the beautiful ‘Mama’ who can, with your help, cook up a whole host of delicious wonderful treats such as French toast and grilled tomatoes, or a sausage sandwich with a side order of ketchup. Lovely. Although it pretty much is just that; cooking. It’s like Mama is a chauvinistic male’s view of all women: get in the kitchen, cook, bake, and clean up. While I have no problem with this, I know a fair few feminists who would.
SO. Mama goes outdoors and lives her life like a real independent women – and with over 100 mini-games to go at, there’s no shortage of liberal things that you and Mama can do. How about going fishing, or adventuring though the jungle avoiding critters? How about having a swim with the fish, or jumping from log to log like Frogger on a flowing stream? Uprooting vegetables? Throwing stones on the water? Catching butterflies? Cutting wood? Chopping down trees? Starting fires? Swinging from trees? Feeding monkeys? Stealing honey? Digging graves? Playing with a snake? Or oddly, participating in ring toss with a penguin – in the middle of a hot woodland area. David Attenborough would have something to say about that, I’m sure.
All the mini-games in Cooking Mama Adventures: Outdoor World offer some degree of entertainment, but they’re not all necessarily strong mini-games – a lot of them you’ll play once and never return again. For example, catching a butterfly or cutting wood can get monotonous and dull very quickly, but the Frogger-style jumping game and the swimming game might be worth a second or third play through, as they aren’t quite as shallow as some of the others.
For a Cooking Mama game, you don’t really do much cooking. Great news for the feminists who I mentioned earlier, not so great news for kids who like cooking simulation. Most of the games here are all outdoors themed like the ones mentioned above. You can cook the things you catch in a couple of aforementioned mini-games, like when you go fishing, you can expect to make some kind of BBQ fish dish alfresco, but there’s not a lot of variety unless eggs and seafood do it for you – disappointingly, despite the number of butterflies I’ve caught, no recipe I’ve come across uses butterfly wings, or essence of crushed butterfly. Shame, I was looking forward to Soup De Moth.
Cooking Mama Adventures: Outdoor World boasts some impressive visuals for a DS game – plenty of variety, loads of stuff to look at, with the vast number of different games on offer, you will most likely become bored before your eyes become strained. There’s some nice music that runs throughout the game and sound effects to compliment everything Mama does, from sharpening a knife to peeling an apple. There’s a lot of polish in this area and it shows.
It’s not like there’s no effort gone into this game, with the cooking and the adventuring, there’s entertainment to be found – you can even decorate your own camp with treasures you find on your travels, although this is limited decoration and not exactly as expansive as The Sims series, but a nice fun feature for kids nonetheless. There’s also learning experiences to be had in the shape of exploring and identifying side missions that will have you spotting unknown objects in the jungle or counting the spots on a ladybird’s back.
If you take this game for what it is – a mash-up mixed-up title full of things to keep you distracted – then you might find something you like, but if you’re expecting in-depth cooking, or any kind of depth for that matter, you might be best off looking elsewhere. Like not outdoors! Right, I’ve got to go; Percy is trying to make a break for it again!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo DS code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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